October 13, 2010

Review – Alan Wake: The Writer

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 1:53 pm

Alan Wake The Writer
As the second piece of DLC for Remedy’s psychological action thriller, “The Writer” continues Alan’s journey through the darkest of night via the exploration of Wake’s internal state of mind. Picking up where “The Signal” left off, Wake navigates a path through the fractured self exposed by the retail release.

By film or book or videogame, subject matter opens as many possibilities as it does the potential to fall into cliche, and I’ll suggest that once again Alan Wake manages to work within the trappings of the horror genre rather deftly considering how much of a tightrope that proposition creates – my investment in the character of both Wake and the world he is fighting to understand keeps psychological exploration from dipping into cheese.

That doesn’t mean that Wake’s latest outing cuts the fresh path the series seems capable of trailblazing however. But “The Writer” does cut a circular path through the events of the game to date to reach a rather inevitable conclusion, offering players a carnival ride through familiar memories, concerned with finding the significance in character relationships and happenings established by the game proper.

“The Writer” isn’t as fierce as “The Signal”, and certainly doesn’t come out swinging at the player. It offers the same playful situations, where words become tools allowing for a quicker means of dispatching enemies, though the tension of a tunnel maze offers some stress. Much like within “The Signal”, “The Writer” feels like an exploratory tour through the original material, playing with ideas raised by said content, and working to find a deeper connection with the light and dark mechanics of the game as well as the narrative purpose driving the entire endeavor.

The ability to shine light over words and bring a physical object into existence deserves the exploration, and creates a clever air in which we see Wake’s rational mind at work, making sense of the more abstract elements piling up as he seeks to regain control over his collapsed internal state.

Getting into the mind of this character, of this writer, brings plenty of writing symbolism into play, but the heart of this release flows toward character confrontation and conversation that naturally says more about Wake’s inner workings than he could ever narrate.

As such, “The Writer” ties its value completely to the weight this dialogue will have on players. It might be a safe bet, since one wouldn’t accidentally happen into the story at this point, but its hard to deny that the value is stretching thin. Anyone who has followed the game this far will likely feel no choice but to make the purchase, while the uninitiated struggle to understand the obsession with a game which screenshots would leave one to conclude is entirely about a man, his flashlight, and one very long walk through the woods at night.

Anyone who felt the signal was too short isn’t going to find this to their liking, but there’s some necessity to the release, even as it raises a few questions that remain unanswered. What’s most interesting is the mindset in Remedy’s direction, which leads to the conclusion that a full and proper sequel is the only means of resolution. The tricky part is that this doesn’t mean that such a creation could tie together all the loose ends either – one could end the game here as far as stories go, which may be the case. That this ending insists upon a new beginning simply says something about the nature of the story, one that I still insist you should make the time for this year.

Alan Wake: The Writer
DeveloperRemedy Entertainment
PublisherMicrosoft Game Studios
System – Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE)
Release Date – October 12, 2010
Price – 560 Microsoft Points

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

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